The first place to ring in 2013? Christmas Island. The last? America Samoa. Between that first stroke of midnight and the last, there’s a whole world celebrating.
Curious how other countries celebrate the New Year? We asked a few of our friends from around the world what they do and put together a list of traditions—from the quirky to traditional. We think it’d be fun to host a World’s New Year’s Eve party incorporating a few of these traditions from around the globe.
Australians ring in the new year with fireworks and barbecues. While it’s winter up here, it’s summer down there. So celebrating New Year’s at the beach or aboard a boat in the Harbor isn’t uncommon.
The Italians also celebrate with fireworks. You can find them in every grocery store leading up to January 1. On New Year’s Eve, a traditional meal of lentils with pork is served. And to bring good luck? Make sure you’re wearing red underwear. The Italians believe it brings good luck.
Kids in Belgium write a New Year’s letter. They’re traditionally written to the godmother/godfather but can include parents and grandparents. Typically, the letters rhyme and tell the recipient how much they are loved and offer best wishes for the upcoming year. On New Years Day, the children visit their family and friends and read the letter aloud. They are then rewarded with money or a small gift.
In Norway, the sky is lit with fireworks. They also serve rice pudding that has 1 almond in it. They divide it up among guests and it’s believed that the one who eats the almond has a lucky year ahead.
In Spain it’s a tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight. You must eat one at each stroke of the bell to bring good luck for the year ahead. In the north of Spain/South of France region, they eat 13 desserts, representing Jesus and the 12 apostles.
On New Year’s day, it’s important to have a first-footer. This is the first person to come into your home, and he or she must not come empty handed. They should have a purse with coal or better yet, a few coins in it.
Costa Ricans pack a bag or suitcase and hold it at midnight to make sure the coming year will bring travel. Instead of red underpants like the Italians, they wear yellow. They also kiss their loved ones at midnight.
In Venezuela, they eat 12 grapes at midnight which symbolize each month of the new year. They also serve Pan de Jamon—a sweet yeasty bread filled with ham, butter, olives and raisins. And of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration without salsa dancing.
This New Year’s however you celebrate, wherever you celebrate, we wish you a very happy, healthy 2013!